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Showing posts from June, 2017

Upcoming Releases, July

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We're halfway through the summer season at the Box Office. There's been more duds than studs in the first two months. But there's reason for optimism in July.

Friday, July 7:
Spider-Man: Homecoming -- Since 2002, this is the sixth stand alone Spider-Man film featuring the third different cast. That might be enough for someone to say, I'll pass. The other reason might be the last two Spider-Man movies, which had "Amazing" in the title as some sort of irony I guess. But I'm actually excited for this for a couple reasons. First, Tom Holland looks like an ideal casting choice, maybe the best to play the part in the modern era. Second, this is Spider-Man from Marvel, not just Sony. While I loved the Sam Raimi-Tobey Maguire collaborations, this will be something else entirely. And having Robert Downey, Jr.'s Tony Stark along for the ride is the cherry on top.

Friday, July 14:
War for Planet of the Apes -- Do we need another "Planet of the Apes" movie…

Now Playing

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Here's a look at the new movies I saw this week.

Cars 3
Starring: Owen Wilson, Cristela Alonso, Chris Cooper, Nathan Fillion, Armie Hammer, and Larry the Cable Guy
Synopsis: This is the third installment in the "Cars" franchise, and our annual foray into Pixar animation. I wasn't a big fan of the first two "Cars" films, and I was weary of this third outing. But something happened along the way — I really found myself drawn to the story and enjoying the ride. The animation is solid, as you'd expect, and the story really appealed to me. My favorite Pixar stories have had to do with growing, changing life circumstances and legacy, and this one really hits that. I enjoyed this the most of all the "Cars" films, and the most of Pixar films the past few years since "Toy Story 3." Maybe the third act is the winner.
Rating: G
Verdict: Three stars out of four.

47 Meters Down
Starring: Mandy Moore, Claire Holt, and Matthew Modine
About: A great staple…

Best of the Small Screen, Dramas No. 9

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Over the next 9 weeks I'll be taking a look at some of my favorite TV series, broken down into three groups (Limited Run Series, Comedies, and Dramas). In my post on March 1 I laid out the ground rules for these categories and this exploration, the biggest of which is no series that are currently airing. To read the whole thing, check out the post "Best of the Small Screen" from March 1.

Today I continue dramas with another polarizing choice.

LOST (2004-2010)
Number of Seasons/Episodes: 6/118
Network: ABC
Starring: Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly, Josh Holloway, Terry O'Quinn, Yunjin Kim, Michael Emmerson, Naveen Andrews, Daniel Dae Kim, Jorge Garcia, Dominic Monaghan, Henry Ian Cusick, and Elizabeth Mitchell
Creator: J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof, and Jeffrey Lieber
Favorite Season/Episodes: Season four, 1.01-1.02 "Pilot," 1.04 "Walkabout," 2.01 "Man of Science vs. Man of Faith," 2.03 "Orientation," 3.06 "I Do," 3.23-3.24 &qu…

Summer TV Roundup, Week 7

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The days are long and hot, and the TV options are hit-and-miss. Must be summer. In these weekly posts I look at the pilot and second episode of new scripted series this summer. Don't see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.

Wednesday Nights:
Blood Drive, Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on SyFy (Premiered June 14)
About: This Grindhouse-style series is beyond edgy. The second episode featured uncomfortable sex scenes, lots of violence and, oh, the plot centered around a diner for cannibals. This truly is the road trip from hell, for those taking it and viewers alike. Last week I said this show was gross and unwatchable. If possible, episode two was more unsettling and even weirder. I'm not sure what they were going for here (though there's probably a subset of hard core edgy horror movies fans that love this). It's not for me, and it's probably not for most people. This is easily the worst new show I've seen in 2017.
Pilot Grade: F
Second Episode: F-

Thursday Nights:

Summer Box Office Lessons

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It's the end of June, and we're nearly two months into the summer season at the Box Office. With just half the summer (and really one month of big time blockbusters) to go, it's a good time to pause and reflect on what we've learned about the movie going public from the summer so far.

And if you're planning a sequel or re-boot, this might not be good news. We've only had a couple hits so far, and plenty more misses. That might end up being the biggest takeaway from the summer of 2017.

Here's a few observations:

* People will still turn out for a well-made movie. You could look at summer's only legitimate hits ("Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2" and "Wonder Woman") and simply dismiss it by saying people love superhero movies. They do, that's true, but that's not why these movies hit. Both offered a lot of fun and characters audiences could identify with. "Wonder Woman," in particular, tapped into something missing at…

Top 25 of the 21st Century

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Recently people have been releasing their lists of the best 25 films from the 21st Century, which is now 17 years old. I put some thought to it and below are my favorite 25 films from the first part of this new century. I look forward to comments and feedback.

Top 25 of the 21st Century:
1. The Dark Knight (2008) — This is my favorite film of the new century, and I think the best. I love Christopher Nolan, and I love this film.
2. No Country For Old Men (2007) — This Coen Brothers film is a beautiful adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy Novel with rich performances. It was the best of an incredible year of films.
3. Whiplash (2014) — Damien Chazelle has a bright future based on his first few movies. I fell in love with this film from the moment I saw it. It's not an easy film, but it is incredibly well made.
4. Up In The Air (2009) — Jason Reitman is a very talented director, and there are several of his films that I love. But this is my favorite, and my favorite George Clooney performan…

The 'Watchmen' are coming

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"Who watches the Watchmen?"

Earlier this week, Christmas came early when HBO announced that Damon Lindelof would adapt the famous graphic novel "Watchmen." "Watchmen" is one of the all time graphic novels, making the Time Magazine list of the 250 greatest novels of all time.

It was previously adapted into a very faithful film by Zach Snyder. I love the film, because I love the story, but I recognize the flaws. It wasn't a popular film with critics and had mixed reviews from fans.

Lindelof is well versed in mixed reviews. He's dealt with them all his career. Yet, he's been prolific in creating TV series. "L.O.S.T." despite its flaws was remarkable television. And "The Leftovers," another challenging book to adapt, was one of the best series of all time, largely thanks to Lindelof.

And both dealt with morally dubious stories and open-ended philosophical questions. Sounds like "Watchmen," doesn't it? So, natural…

Where should you draft Martavis Bryant?

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We’re at the point in the season where everyone is trying to find value, plan draft strategies and land on the right combination of players to win a title. As part of that off-season work, I’m continuing my series looking at some players that, if you grab at the right value, can help be the missing piece to a title.

Today I turn my focus to Martavis Bryant, one of the most exciting and polarizing players in the fantasy community. He’s exciting, of course, because of the talent and potential. He’s polarizing because it’s hard to gauge his value. In some ways, Bryant is the new Josh Gordon, an immensely talented player coming off a suspension that has people salivating.

In 14 games in 2013, Gordon caught 87 passes for 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns for the Cleveland Browns. The Cleveland Browns! But Gordon struggled with personal conduct, leading to a suspension to start 2014. When he returned, many had drafted him high hoping for a glimmer of that production from 2013 come playoff ti…

Now Playing

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Here's a look at the new movie I saw this week.

Rough Night
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Zoe Kravitz, Kate McKinnon, Jillian Bell, Ilana Glazer, and Paul Downs
Synopsis: In the summer of 2011, things changed. Summer had always been a time for outrageous comedies, mostly from the boys. Movies like “The Hangover” and “Wedding Crashers” made a ton and established a brand. But 2011 showed us the ladies could do the same thing with “Bridesmaids.” The movie was like so many other summer comedy smashes in the outrageous comedy it contained. It was unique in that it was fronted by a group of female characters. And ever since that summer (when the film made $169 million at the Box Office), plenty of films have tried to emulate it. I mention this because “Rough Night,” which opened last Friday, spent a lot of time trying to draw comparisons to “Bridesmaids” in its marketing campaign, even hailing itself as the funniest comedy since that film. When you set the bar high, you have to clear it. …

Best of the Small Screen, Dramas No. 10

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Over the next 10 weeks I'll be taking a look at some of my favorite TV series, broken down into three groups (Limited Run Series, Comedies, and Dramas). In my post on March 1 I laid out the ground rules for these categories and this exploration, the biggest of which is no series that are currently airing. To read the whole thing, check out the post "Best of the Small Screen" from March 1.

We begin the final leg of this journey, dramas. As a reminder (in case you don't want to go back to March 1), this list includes only shows that have completed their run. That means shows like "Game of Thrones," which I love, can't be on this list at this time.

Breaking Bad (2008-2013)
Number of Seasons/Episodes: 5/62
Network: AMC
Starring: Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Dean Norris, Betsy Brandt, Anna Gunn, RJ Mitte, and Bob Odenkirk
Creator: Vince Gilligan
Favorite Season/Episodes: Season four, 4.08 "Hermanos," 4.10 "Salud," 4.13 "Face Off," 5.0…

Summer TV Roundup, Week 6

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Summer officially begins today (the longest day of the year, also the hottest in Colorado). But summer on the small screen began long ago. Still, the new shows keep on coming. So here's a look at the new scripted series that premiered this week. In these posts I review the pilot and second episode of these new scripted series of summer. Don't see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.

Wednesday Nights:
Blood Drive, Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on SyFy (Premiered June 14)
About: Grindhouse is a style of filmmaking popular in the 1970s that was brought back to relevance a few years ago thanks to Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. Those are filmmakers that, whether you like their work or not, know how to put together a good story. SyFy seems to have forgotten that and latched on the idea of swearing, sex and pornographic levels of violence to make a new TV show. This show is aggressively bad in terms of plot, characters, and reasons to care about it, and just plain aggressive…

2017 Broncos Season, Roster Bubbles

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The Broncos mini camp is over, and now we have a few weeks before Training Camp begins. A few weeks after that comes pre-season, and a few weeks after that comes the roster cut downs. The Broncos will trim from 90 to 75, then from 75 to 53.

That means, inevitably, some talented players won't make the final roster. Since we have little to occupy our football deprived minds between now and camp, I'm going to look at a couple roster bubble positions and make some way too early to be good predictions.

Quarterback:
On the Roster: Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch, Chad Kelly, and Kyle Sloter
About: The Broncos had three quarterbacks on the active roster most of the 2016 season, with Austin Davis joining Siemian and Lynch. Aside from a rare week when Siemian was too hurt to suit up, the Broncos never had Davis active. He was a practice arm. Now, I know some people are enamored of Kelly, who was Mr. Irrelevant in the draft. Still, I think the Broncos have other needs for the final 53. My pr…

We Need A Savior

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"But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, 'Lord, save me!'” - Matthew 14:30

As people, we want to think we can do it all. We want to think we can pull ourselves up, help ourselves, and save ourselves. In fact, that's what our culture wants us to believe, too.

But we can't.

In our new summer series, we're looking at what our Souls Need. This week focused on a Savior. Our Souls need a Savior. We need to be saved, whether we acknowledge it or not.

In the passage in Matthew 14, Peter walks out on the water in the storm. He sees Jesus do it and, when invited, believes he can do it, too. But once he's out there, the prospect of it (the wind, the water, the danger) gets to be too much. He cries out for salvation, and Jesus literally saves him.

He literally saves us, too, even when we don't realize or acknowledge it. We don't often find ourselves in the water in the midst of a literal storm, but we all face metaphorical st…

NFL Over/Unders, AFC

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We're still about six weeks from the start of Training Camp, but it's never too early to look ahead to the new NFL Season. Yesterday I looked at the Over/Unders for the NFC squads. Today, it's time for the AFC.

AFC East:
Buffalo Bills: 2017 Over/Under 6 Wins; 2016 Win Total: 7
About: The Bills didn't do a ton to help themselves this off-season, and they weren't an incredible team last year. Rex Ryan is gone, and the Bills hope it's addition by subtraction. I'm not sold. Six is a modest win total, though, so I'm going to push. I think that's about right.

Miam Dolphins: 2017 Over/Under 7.5 Wins; 2016 Win Total: 10
About: The Dolphins were a surprise playoff team last season, but they're getting little respect. A 7.5 Over/Under feels low. They could regress a couple games and beat that, so I'm going over.

New England Patriots: 2017 Over/Under 12.5 Wins; 2016 Win Total: 14
About: The Patriots are the defending champions and actually got better. This i…

NFL Over/Unders, NFC

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Mini-camps are wrapping up and Training Camps open in a month. That means it's time to start looking in earnest at the 2017 season. Today, I'll look at the over/under for each team in 2017. Today I look at the NFC.

NFC East:
Dallas Cowboys: 2017 Over/Under 9.5 Wins; 2016 Win Total: 13
About: To pick the over, you'd have to believe the Cowboys were going to have 10 or more wins. That's plausible considering they were the best in the NFC a year ago, and still have Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliot and Dez Bryant. But I'm going under here. I think they regress (and that could be 9-7 and still be right).

New York Giants: 2017 Over/Under 9.0 Wins; 2016 Win Total: 11
About: This one's tougher because it's a whole number. The Giants could be 9-7 and still make the playoffs. But I'm going over here. I think they can win 10 games, and I think they win the East this season. After all, Dallas doesn't scare them. (They were 2-0 versus the Cowboys in 2016).

Philadelphia E…

Now Playing

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Here's a look at the new movies I saw this week.

Megan Leavey
Starring: Kate Mara, Ramon Rodriguez, Common, Tom Felton, Bradley Whitford, and Edie Falco
Synopsis: This true life story is about a Marine named Megan Leavey (Mara) who worked as a K-9 handler during the war in Iraq. She formed a bond with her dog that went deep, then both of them were injured in the line of duty as a roadside bomb exploded. Leavey chose not to re-enlist, but she was initially denied the opportunity to adopt her dog. She fought like heck to get him and, eventually, her story made national news, and her dog Rex were reunited. This was a beautiful story beautifully told. Leavey was someone who needed direction and connection in her life, she found both through her service and her partner, Rex. Her fight to be able to adopt her partner is beautiful and stirring, and comes to a satisfying end. This is a movie that everyone will enjoy and is a powerful story of those who serve and sacrifice so much to keep ou…

Best of the Small Screen, Comedies No. 1

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Over the next 11 weeks I'll be taking a look at some of my favorite TV series, broken down into three groups (Limited Run Series, Comedies, and Dramas). In my post on March 1 I laid out the ground rules for these categories and this exploration, the biggest of which is no series that are currently airing. To read the whole thing, check out the post "Best of the Small Screen" from March 1.

Today I continue with my favorite TV comedy of all time.

Sports Night (1998-2000)
Numbers of Seasons/Episodes: 2/45
Network: ABC
Starring: Josh Charles, Peter Krause, Felicity Huffman, Joshua Malina, Sabrina Lloyd, and Robert Guillaume
Creator: Aaron Sorkin
Favorite Season/Episodes: Season one, 1.02 "The Apology," 1.07 "Dear Louise," "2.03 "Sam Gardner," 2.11 "And the Cutman Cometh," 2.22 "Quo Vadmis"
About: Aaron Sorkin is known for his TV work, specifically his great hit "The West Wing," which will appear in the next 10 weeks …

Summer TV Roundup, Week 5

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The days are hot and long, and the new scripted options are small and, ultimately, have been pretty unsatisfying. Must be summer. In these weekly posts I look at the pilot and second episode of new scripted series this summer. Don't see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.

Monday Nights:
Daytime Divas, Mondays at 10 p.m. on VH1 (Premiered June 5)
About: Based on the book from Star Jones and set behind the scenes at a show very much resembling "The View," "Daytime Divas" is about five co-hosts of a daytime talk show and the drama going on in front of and behind the camera. They all have problems. The main host (Vanessa L. Williams) is controlling and manipulative. And the rest of the ladies on her panel? Just as much of a struggle. A dangerous affair, blackmail, a loveless marriage, drug abuse, parental issues, spousal abuse, and more drive the drama in their lives. And there's some decent performances here (Williams seems at home in the role), but t…

The Age of the Antihero

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"I find it interesting, this sociological phenomenon, that people still root for Walt. Perhaps it says something about the nature of fiction, that viewers have to identify on some level with the protagonist of the show, or maybe he's just interesting because he is good at what he does. Viewers respond to people who are good at their job, even when they are bad.?" - Vince Gilligan, creator of "Breaking Bad"

I didn't get caught up in the "Breaking Bad" phenomenon when it was on the air. But after reading and hearing a lot about it, I decided to get caught up on the series. I went through the whole thing and, on a lot of levels, I saw what all the fuss was about.

The show was well-written, particularly in the latter seasons, and well produced. It had good performances and certainly pulled you in (again, for me, mostly from the end of season three on). But it was interesting to observe the protagonist, Walter White. Or, more accurately, he might have…

We Need A Hero

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"A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is brave five minutes longer." — Ralph Waldo Emerson

We live in an interesting age of superheroes. The Marvel Cinematic Universe, the DC Cinematic Universe, the Netflix Series, most of the lineup on the CW, it's all about superheroes. And that makes some sense. Superheroes are the cultural mythology of our day and age. They give us something to aspire to and give us hope.

Even though the stories have become more complex and darker in recent years. Of course, that's nothing totally new. "Watchmen," the rare comic to make the Time Magazine list of the 100 greatest novels of all time, was all about being weary of heroes.

Written by Alan Moore, a anarchistic atheist, who had a somewhat dark view of the world, especially those that would claim to be heroes and saviors. He felt anyone who claimed to be either did so because of a narcissistic and self-serving pathology. And his work, "Watchmen," reflects…

Will Julius Thomas Return to Form?

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It’s the off-season, which gives us a chance to study, think and make projections. Today, my pitch is for Julius Thomas as a sleeper tight end this season in Miami. I know what Jaguars fans are gonna say, “He was sleeping the last two years in Jacksonville.” And that’s fair. But let me plead my case.

I’ll admit it, I’m an unabashed Denver Broncos fan, so I have a soft spot in my heart for Thomas. He was a great and productive player for Denver, and I was sad when he left. And for good reason.
Thomas was drafted in 2011, and while he had some talent and potential in the pre-season, that never translated during his rookie season. He grabbed one pass for seven yards. He was another pre-season hype player in 2012, but due to injuries he didn’t even play a game in 2012. But that promise was still there.

Thomas didn’t have a huge college resume, at least not for football. He went to Portland State, where he set records as a basketball player. On the football field, he played just one seaso…